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This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry

Plug-In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance is currently small but growing...

Saturday, November 25, 2023

EVs for EVeryone :: Making EVs Affordable

Electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain and cheaper to "fuel" than internal combustion vehicles. From an economic perspective, the initial vehicle price is the only thing holding many consumers back from purchasing an EV. The good news is that EV prices are decreasing; albeit slower than we'd like.

Charging At Home Is Convenient (and affordable)

EV ownership is much easier if you own a home and have a garage. You install a residential EV charging station in your garage and you charge overnight (when rates are often at their lowest). Then you start out each morning with a full charge.

Depending on where you live, the cost per mile driven can be about the same as gasoline priced at $1 per gallon.

Charging away from home is often more expensive; workplace and hotel guest charging, however, is often free.

Borrow Instead of Buy

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has an EV car-share program like "CRuSE" (Clean Rural Shared EV), you can borrow an EV for just $2 per hour. 


When you are buying, tax incentives certainly help ease that upfront cost. And now that this modern era of EVs is entering its teen years, there's a healthy and growing used EV market. 

Prices Are Dropping

However, the incentives will not be required for much longer. Battery technology keeps advancing, bringing longer ranges, faster recharge times, and (most importantly) lower prices. Later this decade, EVs will have a lower starting price than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Then with the additional lower running costs, it will be a no-brainer.

Multiple battery factories are being built today. Batteries are by far the single highest cost of EVs today. As these factories come online in 2024, battery prices will drop and EV prices will follow.

Falling prices of critical minerals will lead to a 40% drop in the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 2025, with big implications for the pace of global EV adoption, says Goldman Sachs Research.

Consider A Used EV

If you're looking for an affordable EV today, a used one is your best bet. We recently purchased a 2016 Chevy Spark EV. It only has about 60 miles of range, but it is our runabout vehicle. The range is perfect for errands. It starts out every morning fully charged, ready for the day. 

Once You Get Here, It's Fun!

EVs are fun to drive, smooth, quiet, and peppy. When the performance, range, and size fit your needs, it's magical.


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Tesla Powerwalls and PGE VPP Rule Changes

PGE has announced a major change to their Virtual Power Plant (VPP) program called SmartBattery. 

With the old program, participating homeowners (with home batteries such as our Tesla Powerwalls) were paid $20 per month for signing up to the VPP, making our batteries available to the utility. Each time there was an event, you could opt out if you liked. If you didn't opt out, then during an event PGE would pull energy out at a max power rate of 3kW. The events were generally 3 or 4 hours and limited to a total of 9kWh of energy per participant. The events happened throughout the year with August generally the most active month.

This was a nice system because the payment rate was consistent, but that's not how the new program works. Rather than just paying for availability, the new method pays you for actual participation by the kWh. You can see the payment rate below is $1.70 per kWh.  

Electricity around here is generally rather cheap (around 11 cents per kWh), so getting paid $1.70 per kWh is quite a premium. 

The new program also has new controls that allow you to specify how much of your battery charge you allow to participate in the event. You can see below that there are options of 30%, 50%, or 80%. 

The more of your battery that's used, the more kWh you provide to the grid, the more you get paid. I think this is a better structure than paying $20 per month, even if you opt-out each time. 

Comparing Plans

How do these two compare? From a financial perspective, the first one is easy to calculate: $20 per month for 12 months is $240 per year. 

The new program is not as easy to calculate. In 2022 there were 15 events. We contributed 9kWh to each. Applying the new rules, that would be $229.50 ($1.70 * 9 kWh * 15 events). That's a little less than the $240 from the old program; however, in the new program, I have opted for the maximum participation tier. So now I could contribute up to 32kWh per event. Meaning it's possible that my batteries could earn $600 per year. 

If you're in the Portland General Electric service area and you have residential batteries, check out the SmartBattery program if you want to help keep the peaker plants turned off and you want to earn a few dollars.

If you'd like to read more, you can learn about Powerwalls here.

If you want to buy your own Powerwalls, you can use my referral link for any referral bonuses that Tesla may be offering. Disclosure: I'm long TSLA.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Tesla Model Y Roof Rack Impact On Range

We've installed a roof rack on our Tesla Model Y. 

I wanted to know if this would have any impact on our range / driving efficiency. The good news is that we have a ~170 mile round trip drive that we made just before the rack was installed. Then after the rack was installed, we made the same round trip. I collected data for both drives so this made for a good chance to compare.

This drive is mostly freeway speed driving on Interstate-5. Of course, there are a lot of variables that impact range (e.g., tire pressure, speed, weather, elevation changes...). The nice thing about this comparison is that it's nearly the same route, similar weather days, same vehicle, same driver... So this is about as apples-to-apples as we can get.

Before the roof rack was installed: 

Distance: 167.90 Miles
Energy Used: 42.52 kWh
Drive Time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Ave Speed: 54.75 MPH
Temp: 67°F there, 69°F back
Efficiency: 253.4 Wh/mile or 3.95 miles per kWh

After the roof rack was installed:

Distance: 170.18 Miles
Energy Used: 40.40 kWh
Drive Time: 3 hours, 12 minutes
Ave Speed: 53.18 MPH
Temp: 73°F there, 79°F back
Efficiency: 237.4 Wh/mile or 4.21 miles per kWh 

Well there you have it. Looking at these numbers, there's no significant range impact from the roof rack. In this comparison, the drive with the roof rack was actually more efficient. This was not because of the roof rack, it was likely the slightly lower speed or the warmer air temp reducing drag.

To be clear, this was with no cargo on the roof; just the installed roof rack.


The roof rack had no notable impact to the driving efficiency or range. Other variables such as speed, temperature, elevation, tire pressure... have far more impact on range than the presents or absence of the aerodynamically shaped Tesla roof rack.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Decade That Changed Everything

A few years ago, I shared a scary Halloween story about how the entire economy is going to collapse over the course of this decade. This year, I thought I'd share the more positive side of that "collapse"; rebirth. 

Only when looking back, with a few years of perspective, can you really see the things that make a decade stand out. During the decade, when you are living it, it's hard to know the day-to-day things that will define it. Now, it's easy to see that things like water beds, big hair, M-TV, neon leg warmers, shoulder pads, and hammer pants define the decade of the 1980s. What will define the 2020s decade? 

We're less than halfway through this decade, and it's certain that things like the pandemic and the insurrection will cover pages in the future history books, but I'm interested in things that will influence the culture of that future society that's reading that history book. I think it's starting to become clear that the phase-out of fossil fuel usage, is truly underway. It will take a generation for it to come to fruition, but it is making more progress now than it ever has. 

This is the decade that will cross the chasm; this decade will be the tipping point.

EVs, solar, and wind power are not new, but steady efficiency improvements and advances in battery technology have taken these to a new level of performance and grid integration. 

Performance improvements have made them more desirable, increasing demand; allowing production levels to increase; allowing the price to be reduced; thereby further increasing demand. It's a positive feedback loop, a virtuous cycle, and it's gaining momentum.

Phasing out fossil fuels will be a big change. At one time, people smoked cigarettes in nearly every place. They smoked on airplanes, in restaurants, and in workplace offices. Today, looking back on that time, we wonder why that was ever allowed. It just seems dumb that this behavior was tolerated. It didn't matter if you were a non-smoker, a child, or infirmed, you were subjected to secondhand smoke in everyday life. It seems unthinkable that you couldn't sit down in a restaurant and have a meal without being engulfed in carcinogenic fumes. 

Similarly, a few decades from now, people will look back at today with similar incredulity at the days when we were sitting in traffic jams surrounded by tailpipes. They'll look back at parents in cars idling in queues for school drop-off and pick-up, all the while spewing out deadly emissions while little lungs are breathing nearby. They'll wonder why we used fossil fuels for more than a century; especially after the turn of the millennium when the downsides had become painfully obvious.

For fun, let's look at how an academic in 2035 might look back at today in an attempt to understand why our society was so slow to move to the inevitable renewable future.

Term paper, December 2035, The Societal Dissociative Disorder That Allowed Continued Fossil Fuel Usage In The Early 21st Century 


The paper investigates the phenomenon of "Societal Dissociative Disorder" (SDD) and its implications on the continuation of fossil fuel usage during the early 21st century. By the year 2035, the consequences of climate change have become apparent, necessitating a critical analysis of the societal and psychological factors that hindered a timely transition to renewable energy sources.

Drawing from extensive historical records and contemporary research, this study examines the psychosocial mechanisms that facilitated the perpetuation of fossil fuel dependency. We propose that SDD, a collective cognitive and emotional disconnection from the long-term consequences of continued fossil fuel use, played a significant role in prolonging the reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

This paper shows the global energy landscape during the early 21st century, highlighting the dominance of fossil fuels and their pervasive influence on various sectors of society. Subsequently, it explores the cognitive biases and socio-political dynamics that contributed to the denial and minimization of climate change impacts, thereby reinforcing the status quo.

Furthermore, our research identifies the powerful interests and industry lobbying that constructed barriers to comprehensive climate policy reform. By analyzing case studies of historical environmental movements, we demonstrate how entrenched economic interests and disinformation campaigns perpetuated SDD and effectively hindered meaningful climate action.

Moreover, this paper delves into the psychological underpinnings of SDD, examining the mechanisms of psychological distance and temporal discounting that blunted the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy alternatives. We draw parallels to other societal issues where dissociation from long-term consequences has been observed, providing a broader framework for understanding SDD.

Finally, the paper explores successful initiatives and strategies that ultimately led to the transformative global shift away from fossil fuels. By learning from past mistakes, this study offers valuable insights into overcoming SDD and fostering a collective consciousness that prioritizes sustainability, clean air, clean water, and environmental stewardship.

In conclusion, this paper highlights the relevance of addressing SDD as a key aspect of driving societal change to sustainable energy practices. Only by acknowledging and confronting this psychological phenomenon, can generation alpha be better equipped to navigate complex global challenges and avoid the mistakes of the early 21st century.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Tesla's 2 Million Vehicle Production Year Will Have to Wait

Looking at the production volumes from Tesla last year, it sure looked like this would be the year to hit 2 million vehicles produced in a single year. Fremont and Shanghai Gigafactories were going all out and Giga-Berlin and Giga-Austin were ramping.

The battery cell constraints that have held them back in previous years were resolved.

My hopes for 2023 were high. Tesla sent more reasonable guidance and said that they were expecting to produce 1.8 million vehicles. Tesla is not known for softball targets. They set aggressive targets. They may not always meet them 100%, but they still deliver incredible results. 

I hoped they'd blow past the 1.8 million guidance in November; allowing December's production to push them over the 2 million mark. 

It does not appear that 2 million will happen this year. Tesla announced early in Q3 that they'd be shutting down lines during the quarter for maintenance and upgrades and that's exactly what happened. Q3 of 2023 is one of the few quarters where Tesla didn't set a new production record. It still has impressive year-over-year growth, but it's about 50,000 fewer cars than Q2'23. 

Given all of this, here's the new 2023 estimate. 
Our production prediction for Q4'23 is 555,000 vehicles. If achieved, it would be a record quarter and the first time that they've produced more than half a million vehicles in a single quarter. That would bring the year's production to 1,906,000. This is well ahead of Tesla's guidance, but short of the 2 million I wanted to see. 

Regardless, 2023 already has over a million vehicles rolling off the line with the iconic T logo on the hood. That's millions of vehicles without tailpipes deployed. Far ahead of any other auto manufacturer. 

For Tesla to meet their guidance, they'd have to produce 450,000. They've done more than that in Q2 of this year, so it looks very likely that they'll meet their production target and maybe even a little upside surprise to end the year. 

Disclaimer: I'm long TSLA. Feel free to use my referral code http://ts.la/patrick7819.

Friday, October 13, 2023

The 4 Horsemen of the Auto & Oil Industry Apocalypse

This was originally posted on October 1st 2020. Since today is Friday the 13th of October, it seems fitting to republish it. Enjoy.

It's October, it seems appropriate to start the month off with an epic horror story.


The automotive and oil industries are, collectively, the largest industry on the planet. We fight wars for oil resources, their lobbyists hold sway over every aspect of our government. The value of assets under their control is worth trillions of dollars... 

Regardless of their massive size, things are about to change. There are four megatrends that will ride roughshod over this behemoth. During times of inflection, giants can fall: Kodak famously missed the digital revolution; Blockbuster missed the transition to streaming. During this transportation transition, which brands or companies that we know today, that seem indelible, will fall to Death's scythe and fade into the annals of history?

We still take photos, just not with Kodak cameras. We still watch movies, just not from Blockbuster. Soon, we might be saying; we still drive cars, just not powered with petrol. 

The 4 Horsemen that are upending the 100-year-old status quo are: 

  1. Electrification of Transportation 
  2. Declining Ownership & Mobility as a Service 
  3. Self-driving Cars
  4. Pace of Innovation 

These 4 will shake up the auto and oil industry more in the next decade than we've seen since Henry Ford reinvented the vehicle production line. New players will emerge, some old players will adapt, others will die as we start a new chapter in human history. As a species, we're now evolving beyond petro-sapien and the world will be reshaped. 

Let's look at each of the Doomriders.

Horseman #1 Electrification of Transportation

Our first and biggest harbinger of doom is Electric Vehicles (EVs).

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued an executive order on September 23rd, 2020 that requires all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state by 2035 to be zero-emission. California is one of the largest car markets in the US and if the other gang of 13+ CARB states follow, this will seriously curtail gas car sales. A lot can change in 15 years, but the direction is clear. 

The legacy automakers are heavily invested in their internal combustion infrastructures. The factories and supply chains they've established are not simple to change from combustion vehicles to electrically powered ones. Converting them will be expensive and auto companies are not flush with cash. The assets and know-how that once enabled them to be profitable are now (or are soon to be) stranded assets and liabilities. Legacy automakers have been reducing their dividend payments as their stock prices decline and their debts grow. 

While the legacy automakers are tied to an anchor pulling them down, Wallstreet seems to be tripping over themselves to fund electric car start-ups. Tesla has had round after round of capital raises, most recently a $5B capital raise in 2020, and $2.7B before that in 2019. The market has rewarded Tesla with a higher stock price each time they raise money, viewing these as 'growth accelerators'. This applies to other EV upstarts as well; investors seem far more interested in small start-up companies in the growing EV market rather than large companies in the declining ICE market.

Tesla recently shared the below graph at their Battery Day event. 

This graph is for the 1st half of 2020 and you could argue that 2020 had been anomalous in many ways and not a valid sample for future predictions. However, times of crisis accelerate transitions so perhaps this is a better view of the future. Bloomberg estimated that at least 50% of global car sales in 2040 will be electric. If the trend in the above graph continues, many of the legacy automakers will not survive. 

Several trends are driving EV adoption: 
  • Battery technology has been continuing to improve by 5%-7% per year. This means that each EV generation is slightly more capable than the previous. Range, towing, recharging time... are all related to the battery, and all are improving each year and projected to continue to improve into the foreseeable future. 
  • Battery cost has similarly continued to decline (see graph below). This allows capable EVs to move into lower price-points. A recent Forbes article said that Tesla's upcoming $25,000 EV would be "game over for gas and oil". Additionally, this price reduction allows larger packs, with more range and more performance, to be used in high-end EVs. There are now multiple EVs with more than 500 miles of range announced for 2021. Five hundred miles! 
  • EVs are popular with buyers because they are smooth quiet rides that require less maintenance and are far more affordable to fuel. JD Power reports that EV buyers have very high satisfaction rates and most never want to own another gas-powered car after owning an EV.
  • Government incentives. Many municipalities are encouraging EV adoption to meet CO2 reduction targets. The incentives use a range of carrots and sticks. These could be tax incentives, sales tax waivers, parking privileges, carpool (HOV) lane access even with a single occupant, increased gasoline taxes (making EVs a better alternative)... 
All of these trends are pushing more of the market into electrified transportation, whether the legacy automakers are ready for it or not. The impact of this transition will not only be felt by the auto industry but also by gas and oil.

According to TradeArabia, EVs are expected to offset oil demand by 1.2 million barrels per day by 2025. ExxonMobile, once a stalwart of the Dow Jones Index, was recently removed from the index after serving 92 years as a member of the elite company list. The transition to electric 'fuel' is in its infancy, and the impacts are already causing giants to stumble.

Horseman #2 Declining Ownership

“The things you own end up owning you.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Next on our list of creative destruction is a generational change in how cars are viewed. If you were born in the US before 1990, when you turned 16, you wanted a car. A car meant freedom. Freedom to go see your friends, to go on adventures, to go on dates and (if it went well) to steam up the backseat windows looking for paradise by the dashboard light.

Teens today live in a different world. Much of their social life is online. They don't need a car in order to hang out with their friends. Cars are no longer viewed as the iconic symbol of freedom. A car is just a method to get from A to B (if travel can't be avoided).

The mentality of a car as merely a tool opens up many opportunities for change. If you live in an area with a dense enough population, rideshare or scooters are options for most trips. If you want dinner, meal delivery is only a few taps away on a smartphone; similarly, grocery delivery is just another app. On the rare occasion that you need a car for something like a weekend getaway, you rent one (Getaround, Turo...). Collectively, these are called mobility as a service (MaaS). 

As the Fight Club quote goes, “The things you own end up owning you,” and this is especially true with cars. Owning a car is demanding both financially and timewise. Using MaaS means that you don't have to buy a car, pay for gas, buy car insurance, pay for maintenance, fluids, tires, parking... If all of your mobility needs can be met without owning a car, this is appealing to many.

MaaS is easiest in an urban or suburban environment and the percentage of the population in these sections of the country has been steadily increasing for decades. This means that MaaS adoption trends will likely continue to increase too. 

Another trend that is enabling the decline in car ownership is working from home. The pandemic has caused many employers to rethink their office policies. If you are not commuting daily, the need to own a car is also reduced. 

Horseman #3 Self Driving Cars

Our third disruptive horseman (or should that be horseless carriage man) is autonomous cars. This technology is not yet here in any significant manner, but it. is. coming.  And when it does arrive, many fleet managers and vehicle shoppers will not consider buying a car without it. 

This technology puts automakers in competition with big tech companies like Google (Waymo), Amazon (Zoox), and Tesla; as well as a swath of start-ups. This is not a fight that legacy automakers are equipped to win. They will have to find technology partners and hope the partnership is fruitful. Again this is a gauntlet that some legacy automakers may not survive.

This threat is enabled by the first two horsemen. When vehicles are fueled by electricity, they are cheaper to operate. When the driver can be removed, they can run 24/7 further amortizing the cost thereby making them yet again cheaper to operate. The first company to make a seven-nines reliable autonomous driver AI system will be in high demand.

Horseman #4 Fast-Paced Innovation

Our ultimate horseman sits atop the fastest thoroughbred of this apocalyptic harras, Innovation.

Transportation is likely to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 100 years. These extraordinary technological advances are causing an epic shift to multiple trillion-dollar industries. Before the emergence of this wave of EVs, starting with the Volt and the Leaf in 2010, the industry had stagnated. California tried to use mandates to force automakers to bring EVs to high-volume production in the 1990s, but the automakers sued the state and the mandates were overturned (See Who Killed The Electric Car?). Fighting innovation with legislation can (at best) delay it, but it's not a winning long-term strategy.

Cars of the future will be connected, voice-activated, frequently updated, self-driving, have real-time traffic, streaming content, productivity apps, entertainment, and things that are yet to be invented. The software-driven high-technology in-car experience will mean that new software will be needed on a regular interval. The days of releasing a model year and then only touching it again if there's a recall are soon to be over. 

Can automakers attract the talent needed to provide all of this in-car software or will they cede this part of the market to the likes of Car Play and Android Auto?

Expecting a group of laggards and Luddites to change gears and become technology leaders is a big ask. The cultures ingrained in many of these companies will not allow this to happen. Hybrids have been the only significant drive-train breakthrough in decades and even that technology has never crossed the chasm to become mainstream. An industry that is used to a new transmission or valve timing method every 10 years or so, is not prepared to deliver "computers on wheels" that act more like smartphones than cars. 


The giants of the past are getting hit with a perfect storm of change. The role that cars play in our lives is changing, the expectations of personal transportation are changing, the fuel source is changing, the ownership model is changing. Perhaps these giants of the past could have navigated any one of these changes, but the near-simultaneous confluence of all 4 Horsemen will mean that they must adapt quickly or die. Some will acquire or partner with innovative start-ups in hopes of catching up. The culture clash will be enormous and this is unlikely to make it a fruitful alliance. We'll see which companies can reinvent themselves and which will fade into history along with the buggy-whip manufacturers that they once displaced. 

It is not too often that a change this big comes along. We certainly live in interesting times. 


Creative destruction (German: schöpferische Zerstörung) is a concept in economics that describes the "process of industrial mutation that continuously revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one".

Disclosure: I'm long Tesla

Sunday, October 8, 2023

1000 Miles in a Tesla Model Y

We just crossed the 1000-mile mark in our Model Y. We ordered it in late July, took delivery in early August, and hit 1k miles in Early October. Can you call it a 'kilomile'?  

1000 miles is enough to drive from Portland to Los Angeles or Portland to Grand Junction, Colorado. Our trips, however, were daily driving, not a road trip (not yet). From our home in the west Portland suburbs, we've taken a couple round trips to the PDX airport. Our longest trip was to Corvallis. The space in the Y allowed us to load two bookshelves and an office chair in the back for delivery in Corvallis. This has been a fun vehicle to own.

Long Range FTW

The nice thing about the Corvallis run is that we were able to leave our home with a 90% charge, make the 175-mile round trip and arrive home with more than a 15% charge remaining. This included freeway driving speeds and all the elevation changes for the Cascade range. There were multiple opportunities to Supercharge if we needed to, but with the long range, there was no need to extend the travel time; we could comfortably make it home and recharge while we slept using our cheap overnight electricity rate.

FSD Evolution

We've been using FSD Beta for these drives. For me, it removes a lot of the fatigue out of driving. I remain attentive while using FSD, because it is beta and it does make mistakes. The attentiveness that FSD beta requires is different than the attentiveness of driving. Using FSD beta, I'm able to have more situational awareness. It has been nice to watch the FSD progress since V9 we had in our Model 3 to V11 that we have now in our Model Y. Version 12 is coming soon and could be the first version to not bear the beta tag. However, don't confuse this with a final release. V12 will likely be an RC version and will still require a human minder behind the wheel for some time.

Battery Degradation?

Long-time readers of the blog will know that I track the degradation of the batteries in our EVs. In 2011, we purchased a Nissan Leaf and the battery degraded faster than I wanted. After that experience, I keep an eye on the battery health of all of our EVs.

I'll be collecting data on the Model Y for the many years that we plan to own it. The good news is that Tesla batteries don't degrade nearly as fast as the Leaf packs did. 

In our first 1000 miles, there's no degradation to report. 

You can see the line in the graph above wiggle a bit. This variation in capacity is normal. The measurement always has some level of noise based on many factors (e.g., temperature, SoC...). The graph above is zoomed in on the top 30 miles. If we pulled back and looked at all 330 miles, the waves would wash out.

I'm tracking the battery health with TeslaFi. This is different from previous vehicles where I used LeafSpy or TMSpy. The TeslaFi website makes it easy. You don't have to charge to full to see the expected range. The header bar for your vehicle information includes a rated range, a personalized range, and an estimated rated range at full charge. 

If you want to try out TeslaFi, you can use my code (patrick7819) to double your free trial period from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. 

Over-the-Air Updates

During the 60 days that we've had our Model Y, we've received two software updates already. The August 30th update delivered FSD Beta v11.4.4. The second update occurred on Sept 20th and brought improved Autopilot visualizations, improved camera views, Hebrew language support, and a few other minor improvements. I'm excited to hit the install button every time one of these arrives. 

Wrapping Up

The first 1000 miles have been fun. We just installed the roof rack to add even more utility to the vehicle. I'll be posting annual updates to log our Tesla-fueled adventures as well as keeping an eye on the battery health. 

If you'd like to buy a Model Y (or any other Tesla product), you can use my referral code: https://ts.la/patrick7819

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Selling The Dream - Parting Ways With A Tesla

Did you sell or trade-in a Tesla? If so, regardless, if it was a Model 3, Model Y, S or X, there are a few things you should know. 

We recently sold our Tesla Model X via a Kelly Blue Book Instant Cash Offer. These are the lessons that we learned and they apply when parting ways with any Tesla vehicle.

If you've sold, traded in, ended a lease, or even totaled your Tesla, here are a few things you need to know. Below, I'll be referring to selling your Tesla, but most of this applies anytime you will no longer be the owner of the vehicle for any reason.

Selling a Tesla is a little different than selling other cars. You still have to certify the odometer and transfer the registration like other cars, but there are a few additional things that you have to do on the Tesla side of the house too. Since I just went through this, I thought it would be worth mentioning here.

There are three important, Tesla-specific things that you must do.

1) Do a Factory Reset
You don't want the new owner to hit Navigate, Home and end up in your drive way and you don't want them scrolling through your recent destinations or favorite locations list. You need to clear all of that out. 

You'll find the Factory Reset option in the menu under Controls \ Service
This will remove ALL of your custom settings. All of your streaming radio stations, gone. All of your favorites destinations, gone. Seat settings, garage door, charging schedule, gone gone gone... you get it. You should only do this if you have sold the vehicle. You'll have to enter your Tesla account password to initiate this process.

2) Remove (or reformat) Your Dash Cam Drive

Sentry Mode uses the vehicle's cameras and sensors to record suspicious activity around the vehicle when it's locked and in Park. Most Teslas now come with a 128 GB USB drive in the glove box for Sentry Mode video storage. Many owners upgrade this drive for more hours of logging. If you upgraded your drive to a bigger SSD or the like, remove your upgraded storage and install the (freshly formatted) drive that came with the vehicle (if any). If you're still using the drive that came with the car, you should delete the content. The easiest way to do this is to reformat the drive. You don't want to give the new owner the footage of the last 100 times you got into your car.  

3) Remove the vehicle from your Account
Warning: I would not do this step until the payment for your vehicle has cleared. The app lets you know where the vehicle is located and allows you to restrict its top speed. If there's a payment dispute, these features might be helpful features to allow you to get that resolved. 

When the deal is done and you're finally ready to say your last goodbye, open the Tesla app and then: 

  • Tap the profile icon in the top-right corner.
  • Tap Add/Remove Products
  • Under 'Remove' tap the vehicle that you no longer own
Again there will be confirmations and warnings. 

Hopefully, the new owner loves the vehicle as much or more than you did.

Disclaimer: I'm long TSLA. Feel free to use my referral code http://ts.la/patrick7819.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Trying to Buy an EV Nearly Cost Me My Sanity

Previously, we've discussed a friend and his nostalgia for the Saturn brand. Now, he shopping for an EV; with Saturn long gone, what brand and model will he choose.

This has been a multi-year journey and it's not over yet. It's fair to say that the process is not going well. I sat down with him for an interview to share that story here, with you.

Solar Is Free EV 'Fuel'

CarsWithCords (CWC):
I understand that you're interested in buying an EV. Why?

Saturn Fan EV Shopper (SFES):
I have a big huge solar array on top of my house and I might as well have free "gas" because of it and I think we all need to be more responsible in terms of our carbon usage. It's becoming alarmingly clear if you've watched the weather at all, that Mother Nature is telling us that we have done bad.

Additionally, one of my side hobbies is carbon capture technologies. I like to play with algae and I've worked with state senators and state representatives trying to get legislation about carbon capture and carbon capture technology. So I really feel like I need to walk the walk here and an electric car is critical to getting less carbon into our atmosphere and I didn't realize when I started on that journey, how just weird and hard it was going to be. 

I knew the pandemic was gonna throw curveballs, but there were some decisions from automakers that just made me scratch my head. It really made me doubt my own sanity at times, which is not something that I thought was gonna happen, you know, while buying a car.

EVs Are Going Mainstream

What was the process you used to decide which EV was right for you?

So the good news is more and more EV options from the long-term brands.

I had been a long-time Saturn owner and that company folded, horrifically folded, as GM started to implode at one point. That left me at a point where I literally couldn't get my car repaired.

Rivian, Tesla, and some of the other start-ups are immediately off of the table because I didn't want to have to relive that tragedy. Also, I wanted a car, not a political statement, so that knocked out what I would call "vanity" brands. 

I wanted a car from an established brand. I wanted a car from the likes of Ford, VW, or Honda; these companies are older than I am and the probability of them surviving is much higher than a vanity brand or start-up; where, yeah, sure the CEO is completely invested now until he buys a new shiny thing and wants to call it X or something and I'm just making that part up.

That could never happen.

It may end up causing a massive distraction for the brand, for the support of the brand. So I just wanted to have, for lack of a better word, a mainstream provider. And so when I was EV shopping, I went to the Portland Auto Show. This was in February of 2021.

I Want A Car, Not A Starship

I tried out every EV they had there and, for me, they fell into two general categories.

Category One: they are trying to be Star Trek, where it was super high-tech and digital everything. And, you know, just weird glass cockpits that didn't make any sense or they were just very thinly reskinned and cludgy.

This is funny/ironic because I'm a huge Star Trek nerd. So that's how I like sci-fi, but that's not how I like my cars.

The second category was what I'd call normal cars. The Ford Mustang Mach-E was in this second category. Yes, it had the big screen, but it still had buttons and knobs in a familiar layout. 

The VW ID.4 was also in the second category.

There were a lot of cars, like some from Subaru and Nissan, that were there at the show but they were locked. What's on the inside? "You're gonna have to trust us."

I'm there to car shop. The car is there and I can't even sit in it. That didn't endear these brands to me.  

Dieselgate Is The Past, EVs Are The Future

I tried out the Volkswagen ID.4. I know some of your readers shaking their fists at me, "Volkswagen! They're the diesel-gate B*#%@#$."

Yeah, they're the diesel-gate B*#%@#$, but this is an EV. Yes, they cheated on diesel emissions. I felt like they had learned their lesson and an electric car is not a diesel. I didn't want to punish the EV for the sins of the diesel. But I went in very cognizant of sometimes, you know, we take imperfect choices because there are no perfect ones.

This was 2021, during the pandemic, and the car show was really weird. You had to have proof of vaccination. You had to wear a mask. They let in a very limited number of people at a time, so it was a pretty low-key show. One of the events was a "test ride." Sadly, they didn't let you behind the wheel, you were just a passenger and one of the sales droids drove you around a portion of the conference floor.

Even though I didn't get to drive, I thought that was really cool. I mean, you're actually on the event floor and they're actually driving it around. I was like, yeah, we can do that.

Right, that's pretty cool. Driving around indoors. You can't do that in a gas car.

EVs, yeah, no tailpipe, no tailpipe emissions.

Sitting in it, the ID.4 felt good. It was the size that I wanted my knees don't work as well as they used to, so I need something that has a little higher sit-point. It had a giant glass sunroof that I really liked. Even with the giant sunroof, they didn't change the location of the roof line, which I thought was really nice. It felt really well put together. That was attractive to me, getting in and out was easy, and it had the range I wanted.

We inherited a Nissan LEAF when my mother-in-law passed away. I drove the LEAF for a little while. It was used when she bought it so we were the third owners and the range was so degraded by the time that it came to us, it was unusable for our needs.

Based on that LEAF experience, I wanted something that had north of 200 miles of range and the the battery pack that was offered with the ID.4 at that time was like 240-260 or something like that. This would be plenty of range for our needs, even in winter with the heater on max or in the summer with the AC on high.

So I was really happy with the ID.4. It had the right feel, features, and range; so I went home expecting an ID.4 to soon be gracing my garage.

I talked it over with my wife. She agreed. Looking at the options online, they even had the color that I wanted. I've always loved blue cars and they offered it in blue. It came with a white weird kind of fake material trim, but I was like, OK, let's do this.

You had to pre-order it effectively to get a reservation. So I went to their website, filled out all the paperwork, designed my car in their configurator, and submitted it, including, you know, putting down some ducats. That got me into the queue. This was all in February 2021.

Sounds good so far. You found a car that you like and you've got the process going. I'm interested when the questioning of your sanity part comes into play.

Oh, it's coming.

The Frayed Ends of Sanity

When reserving the car, you had to pick a dealer that you wanted to work with. One of my current cars is a Mazda from a local dealership and they've treated me pretty well. They have a Volkswagen arm of their same dealership. They've been good enough to earn my business.

So I called them up to find out where to from here. They said they had completely misjudged the market acceptance of the ID.4 and there were 400 people waiting in the queue for an ID.4 at this one dealership alone.

400, wow!

He said, "I hope you've got patience." I was like, you know, I've got perfectly working cars right now, so I'm willing to be patient.

So he said, I'll get you an update in October. I was like, OK, you know, it's February and I'll get an update (not a car) in October.

October comes and my estimated delivery date is set to February 2022. One year after my order was placed. This was when the supply chain in 2021 really started drying up. There was apparently an automotive silicon factory that also had caught fire or had other disasters. There was automotive grade silicon worldwide constraint. That's not going to help. The dealership tells me that all the dealerships now have to compete for the limited stock so February is an estimate.

OK, I can be patient. I'll be patient. Just keep going. Keep going.

EV Racing With My Dad

In late 2021, my dad started looking for his next car. He was thinking he should go green as well. Looking into the EVs that are available, he found the Mercedes EQE.

After reading all the specs and a test drive, he says, "Yeah, I'll take one of those." So in January of 2022, he gets on the reservation list. Now, he and I are having a race. Who will get their EV first? And I'm like, "Dude, I'm totally gonna take you down. I've already got 10 months in the queue." 

His response was a simple, "We'll see. We'll see."

My trash-talkin' are words I'd be eating later.

The Waiting Game

And so I keep waiting and waiting.

Then I got a call from the dealership. I thought maybe the car was here. It wasn't. They're like, you know, this car is popular and in short supply because of the chip shortage. So the Feb 2022 estimate date became a March date and the March date became an October date. October came and went with no car. I would call periodically to let them know I was still waiting and interested. My estimated delivery was August of 2023.

The Ship Sank!

The dealership called me in July of 2023 to let me know that they had a large allocation, including some that matched my configuration, on a ship that was coming and my August 2023 delivery date looks good. Yes! It could finally happen.

Before July concluded, my hopes were scuddled. The car cargo transport carrying thousands of cars, including one that might've been mine, caught fire and sank in the North Sea. The ship had several month's worth of ID.4 production in it. This made the worldwide shortage of ID.4s radically worse.

The Blue Blues

In August of this year, my patience was wearing thin so I called up the dealership, "Bro, what's going on here, man? We seem to be perpetually delayed? What's the new estimate?"

He said that they were reordering their allocation for the sunk cars and there was a problem. He said, "Well, the interior that you wanted, the interior fabric supplier is no longer supplying that color."

And I'm like, "OK, so put a different color fabric in it." The interior of the car was not a big factor for me. It wasn't some great thing; the materials, the color, it was kind of just good enough.  

They said, "Well, that's not how it works. Volkswagen is discontinuing the blue exterior color because it was paired with this interior color that's no longer available."

That makes no sense to me. Get it from another supplier, put in a black interior, a white interior, or a tan interior. Any of these would work with a blue exterior. And I'm now you can see where the last strands of my sanity starting to evaporate.

They tell me I can have it in silver or gray, or any of the dullest possible imaginable colors. I just wanted blue. If I'm spending all this money on a new car, I should be able to get it in the color I like. I wasn't asking for some rare sapphire-encrusted exterior. I just wanted a normal blue, like I'd ordered. How hard is it to have a blue car?

And it was a little bit like the reverse of the old Henry Ford line of you can have it any color you want, as long as it's black. But for me it was, I could have it in any color I wanted as long as it wasn't blue.

At this point, I'm in the official VW queue and they've long ago locked in my $100 non-refundable deposit and that money is not coming back. 

Jaded By Harsh Reality

I ordered this car two and a half years ago and I still have no car. The fates seem to be plotting against me. The optimist man who thought an EV would be in his garage soon has been replaced by a cynic. I'm pulling the plug on my ID.4 dream. 

I called the dealership and said, "I'm done, you guys. I don't feel like you want my business bad enough. You're not giving me any options. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect delivery in less than 2 years." I know the dealership is only able to offer what VW makes, so my real issue is with VW corporate, not my local dealership; but in the end what matters is whether can I get what I ordered, and in this case, the answer was 'no.'

I mean, how hard is it to use a different interior with the blue exterior. The fact that they were inflexible in this regard made me worried for them as a brand. 

I officially canceled my reservation.

Dad For The Win

I'll call up my dad ready to eat crow and I say, "OK, I'm going back to square one. You're probably gonna win."

He says, "I'm totally gonna win. My car is scheduled to be manufactured this month (August) with delivery in September."

So my dad actually picked his car up last week (early September), so he's got the EQE now and he's starting to learn how to drive it.

He very much so won. He has his car right now, and I don't even have one ordered.

My dad is 79 years old. So you're never too old to get an EV. I never expected this. He's been a total gearhead for his entire life. He enjoys turning a wrench and he has rebuilt and customized multiple cars over his lifetime. I honestly didn't think I'd ever see him in an EV because he has gasoline in his blood. It's just easy for him to see EVs are the path forward. They're the way to keep us independent from oil.

There's been a little bit of a learning curve for him. At 79 things are a little bit harder, but he says the most surprising thing so far has been it goes from zero to "oh, God, how fast am I going?" way too fast for his 79-year-old reaction times. But new cars like his also have all of these new modern safety features like collision avoidance, lane keeping, self-park, and other features. It will be really, really exciting to see how these features mature.

Good for him, at least one of us got an electric car.

Single & Searching 

I'm back to single but searching and I'd put my car status as "complicated." There are still lots of opportunities and there are more and more brands building more and more options, which is exciting. The supply chain issues seem to be mostly resolved, so there's hope. 

But I've had some job variability recently and that made me wanna sit on the sideline financially for a little bit. I want to avoid any large purchases right now. My big problem with EVs right now is that the ones with a practical size and range for my needs are fifty to sixty grand, which is quite a bit of an investment. This is slowly changing, but not as fast as I'd like. 

New models are coming out, existing models are getting updated, and I'm back in the market. I'm really hoping I won't be featured on your blog again as that guy who failed at buying an EV part 2.

It Just Hangs There Mocking Me

One of the annoying parts for me is when they said "Your car will be here soon," I had a residential hard-wired Level 2 charging connector installed in my garage. It's been installed since February and it has had *zero* car charging sessions. 

It's kind of an albatross on my wall saying you spent a lot of money (for nothing - so far). I had to wire her off a separate circuit and do a whole bunch of other stuff to make it work, so it was a pretty penny. I'd like to think it's more Volkswagen's failure than mine, but there's a certain level of spiritual depantsing every time I look at it; oh damn it, why do I not have my electric car.

The good news was I was able to advise my dad when he got his charging connector. And this is maybe a little bit of a heads-up for some of your readers, Dad lives in a house that was built in 1976. It's electrical panel is actually classified as a fire hazard and if anybody with an electrical license interacts with it they have to flag it and tell the state and you have to get it updated. So he called the electrician that installed mine, when they showed up to do the consult they're like whoa boyyo this is gonna cost you. They have to completely replace the panel, they have to completely replace the electrical runs to the meter and the meter as well. They were all out of spec. That's a lot of rewiring, which was an expense that he hadn't expected when pricing the car. The upgrades involve a lot of permitting and working with the local utility for the meters. The county and utilities are not always as timely as you'd like them to be. 

It sounds like he's getting rid of a potential fire hazard, which is a good thing.

Yeah, it was pretty funny because my dad is an electrical and mechanical engineer. He said, "If I'd known that was that much of a problem, I'd have done something about it sooner."

I told him, "You know, I known someplace with a brand new charger that's never been used. If you let me borrow the car for a day or 2, I'll bring it back with a full charge." This little joke reminded me of my high school days, "Dad, can I borrow the car?" 

With Dad replying, "Sure, but you know the rule, bring it home with a full tank." But seriously, he doesn't live far from me and he is welcome to stop by anytime and charge up if he needs it. It would make me feel like I've actually done good with my investment.

Ironically, I installed my charging connector too soon. My dad didn't start the process until after he picked up his car and it's going to be at least 3 months before he has his service upgraded and can level 2 charging in his garage. Until then he can trickle charge on level 1, charge at my place, and use the local DC fast chargers. So he has options. 

So a word to the wise, if you have an older house, maybe the first step that you do is an inspection and estimate for a Level 2 connector installation in your garage because that might end up being the long pole.

I'm Not Giving Up

So what are your EV plans now? 

Yeah, I think I'll rerun the same plan from 2021 again. The Portland Auto Show is coming in a few months. I'll head there and kick all the tires and sit in the seats and everything; go on any EV ride and drive events. There's only so much you can learn about a car online. For me, I have to see it, touch it, and sit in it to really know if it's the right car for me.

And I've been considering opening up my strike zone a little bit. The Bolt EV is a really cute car. I had dismissed it in the past because I blamed GM for killing Saturn, but as I said, there are no perfect choices. So this one may be in the running. I like that it's smaller. They've had some issues though, uh, like where they said, you know, don't park it inside. I'm going to make sure all of those issues have been resolved. 

I like the Nissan Ariya too. The outside is kind of sleek and elegant. The inside has some really kind of weird quirks, so I'm hoping that the next model year will maybe straighten out a couple of those.

The Subaru I only got to see from the outside of the car show I had a Subaru previously. Maybe I'll actually get to sit in one this time. The cockpit layout that they had in the diagram at the car show seemed like they were going the Star Trek route, so I'll have to try it out.

I was looking at the Audi Electric SUV and that was I was really close to pulling the trigger on that one. It's a nice car. It ticked all the boxes. It wasn't a Star Trek car. It was a little bit heavier than I wanted and it was a lot more expensive than I wanted, but I was Jonesing for an EV so bad I was willing to be a little bit stupid. But then when I got that little bit of variability in my life, I was like, nope, nope. This is not the time to financially stretch. No room for stupid right now. I'll put them all back in the hopper again and just kind of walk around the car show and see what I can get.

I don't think I'll have much of an ability to be patient this time. A few months is okay, but if they want to put me on a list for a year plus again, I might have to choke somebody out.

Whoa, I see the ID.4 experience has left a bad taste in your mouth.

You know, I see ID.4s around all the time and I'm like ohh that could have been mine. I still like the look, I still like the shape. When I see a blue one I'm like hmm, what's the punishment for Grand Theft Auto these days? LOL. 

EV sales are increasing, every year there are more models. There will be a lot of opportunities for me to become an EV owner. It'll be exciting to watch this transition unfold. I'm not going to wait for the next battery technology breakthrough. I'm in the market now. You see headlines every week about solid-state batteries or aluminum batteries or some other thing that's coming down the Pike like a thousand-mile battery. I've been promised jetpacks long enough that I'm you know I'm not gonna hold my breath. I've worked in technology for a long time and I know that it's a lot easier to write press releases than it is to make products in high volume. Being able to make one cell in a lab is far from being able to mass produce something with 5-nines of yield. I definitely don't want perfect to be the enemy of progress here, so I'll get something in my garage and on that charger before the end of 2024. Maybe it'll be something that you haven't had a road test on and I can let you kick the tires on it and write up a happy ending as the next part in this saga. 

Yeah, that'd be fun.


A lot of EV manufacturers have announced that they're going to be switching from the J1772 port to the North American Charge Standard (NACS) port in 2025. Are you worried that you'll be buying in a 'lame duck' year? 

Much like waiting for battery advancements, I don't think it's right to wait for things like this either. There will be adapters, NACS to J1772, NACS to CCS. There are too many CCS/J1772 cars on the road today for support to disappear. There might even be a conversion kit to swap the actual port at some time.

You've got to have some sort of backward compatibility and a migration strategy that doesn't alienate your earliest and most fervent supporters. I work professionally on a technology that is still going strong 40 years on. The original packets still work with today's networks even though the speeds are orders of magnitude faster. Hopefully, they've got that same kind of attitude to have a smart strategy that makes it easy to convert. If this a Betamax versus VHS challenge, uh, you know, they're gonna alienate a lot of people.

I think you have the right attitude there. The perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. Automakers have to have a plan to not abandon people in some legacy technology. There will certainly be adapters and I like your idea of conversion kits for an easy upgrade path.

Well, so when you actually do go to the car show, we'll have to do this again.

Yeah. You should come with me! It was fun the year we went with a couple of our other buds. 

Yes, that was a fun time.

You can live-blog of the Portland Auto Show. Come on readers, leave a comment telling Pat he should go!

I bring a notebook and take notes on each car I check out, because, as Adam Savage says, "Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down." You can use my notes as field research. 

The notes really help me compare after the fact. I think I get better results this way than real-time and memory. 

I really like having all the cars under one roof. I don't have to go from dealership to dealership. The Auto Show is a bit of a long day, but it saves a lot of time overall. I'll wear a mask, socially distance where I can, bring hand sanitizer etc. It's a public event, COVID and other nasties are still out there.

With the Nissan Ariya that I looked at it online. I didn't really like it, but I know seeing it personally can be a very different experience than a photo can convey. Then when I finally did see one IRL, it was a much nicer car than the photos convied. You just don't get a good sense of scale with photographs. And no photo can tell you how putting your actual cheeks in the seat will feel. Only sitting there can tell you whether or not it's wide enough or not for your caboose.

Exactly, butts in seats is a tried and true method. 

Speaking of butts in seats, I do want to put in a plug for National Drive Electric Week. There are events all around the world. You can find one near you by checking driveelectricweek.org 

The Oregon Electric Vehicle Association is hosting on October 8th with a ride & drive and a lot of different EVs to try out. You can take to actual owners rather than sales guys (although some of them may be there too): 

OEVA’s NDEW Event Ride & Drive Info Expo 
October 8th, 10am-4pm
4330 S Macadam Ave, Portland, OR (Tesla Sales & Service Center)
w/ generous support from Portland General Electric (PGE)
Many local dealers to provide EV ride & drives, 26 different vehicles, 13 Brands

There are a lot of events coming up in late September and early October. So you might be able cheek out some cars and it would be even cheaper than the car show and sooner.

That's a great idea.

It's important to have a community because when you're switching from horse-drawn buggies to motor-powered, it's nice to have somebody who's kind of been on the journey and can talk you through some of the things. I've learned quite a bit from you and your blog on my journey. Switching technologies like this, what charger to get and some other things, having somebody who's been there, done that, it definitely makes it a lot easier to make the move with confidence.

That sounds like a nice wrap-up point. Any final words you want to add?

San Dimas High School Football Rules!

Just kidding.

Ha ha.

Thanks a lot for your time and I will definitely swing by and try your charge connector so it doesn't get lonely.

Next, next time you're playing pickleball and your battery is low, just text me and swing by. Free juice for you and your car.


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Tesla Model 3 New Battery

Like thousands of other excited, soon to be Tesla owners, I stood in line to reserve a Model 3 on March 31, 2016. This was a game-changing car. Tesla was moving from the high-end luxury market, towards more affordable EVs.    

Two year later, our pick-up date finally arrived. The initial deliveries were rear-wheel-drive vehicles. We ordered the all-wheel-drive, so we were far from the front of the delivery queue. On August 21st of 2018, we were handed the key cards and drove off in our new Tesla Model 3. 

Model 3 Delivery Day 2018

Five years and 24 thousand miles later, we still love this car. The white seats have held up well even through car seats, kids, and dogs. Other than a couple of filter changes after the wildfire summers, we haven't done much maintenance until this month.

The app recently popped up a message that we needed to schedule service. Going to the car, I found this waiting for me on the touchscreen. 

The Learn More provided the following: 

VCFRONT_a402 Error Tesla

VCFront_a402 error message: Our 12V battery was dying. A couple clicks in the app and service was scheduled. It would be mobile service and it was about a week out. Luckily, I work from home and this is not our only car, so we didn't need a loaner. 

Mobile service is great! Instead of taking time out of my day, driving to service, waiting around... I get to remain in the comfort of my home, the service technician comes to me.

The estimate was $110 ($85 parts, $25 labor); I approved this in the app. Our service day arrived. A message in the app let me know they had arrived. Earlier that day, we moved the car from the garage to the driveway for easy access. I saw the driver's door and the frunk pop open in the app. 20 or 30 minutes later, another message informed me that they were done.

I went out said thanks and good-bye. I checked that the error message had been cleared and moved the car back into the garage.

Why Does An EV Have A "Starter" Battery? 

The 12V system runs the accessories and safety systems. EVs generally have a DC-to-DC converter that allows the high voltage of the traction pack to be stepped down to allow the traction pack power to be used to run the 12V system and charge the 12V batter when needed. However, during a severe crash, Tesla vehicles (and most other EVs) uses a pyrotechnical safety switch system to disconnect the high voltage pack. This system uses miniature explosive charges to blow apart the connection between the traction pack and the rest of the vehicle. This reduces the risk of electric shock or fire during a crash.

Safety first, we certainly want to avoid fires, but after a crash, you may still want to do something like open your electronically locked door or roll down your electrically powered windows to get out of the car. To do this, if the traction pack is isolated, you'll need that accessories battery.

If the 12V battery is damaged or disconnected during the crash too, you're not stranded in the vehicle. There are mechanical overrides to open the doors. These are conveniently located located on the Model 3; a little to convenient in some cases where people new to the car pull this handle instead of pushing the open button.

Whenever you get into a car with electronically locked doors (most new vehicles nowadays), make sure you know where the mechanical overrides are located. This is not something you want to be frantically looking for after a crash. 

Why Not Upgrade To A Lithium Starter?

Lithium starter batteries are smaller and lighter than the current lead-acid standard. I'm sure these will become the standard soon (maybe as the industry transitions to 48V). 

In an EV, the "starter" battery does not have to turn the crank to start car, there's just a lot less stress on the battery. 

Today's cars were not designed for a lithium starter battery. This means that the battery storage area is not temperature managed. Lithium batteries are more temperature sensitive than lead-acid batteries. If you want it to work in summer heat and winter cold, I (for now) am going to stick with a lead-acid starter battery. 

Not all lithium-ion batteries are the same. Iron-based lithium batteries (LFP, LiFePO4 and the like) are more temp tolerant than the nickel-based chemistries are a much better choice for a starter battery that would not receive all of the comforts of a liquid cooling system.

Lithium starter batteries are coming, but I plan on waiting until the auto-OEMs have qualified them with hot weather, cold weather, and crash testing. But if you want to try it out, don't let me stop you from voiding your warranty. Just make sure it's the right voltage, amperage, physicals fits, and is well-secured.

Hays Energy Lithium Battery


This article contains affiliate links 
I am long Tesla 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Sometimes Y

Delivery Day at the Tesla Service Center

We just purchased a Tesla Model Y. After we've had some time with it, I'll post my thoughts on the vehicle and ownership experience; but for this post, I have two questions related to the battery: One, How big is the battery pack? Two, How far can I drive? Plus a little fun.

How Big Is The Battery Pack? 

I wanted to know "How big is the battery pack in a 2023 Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD?"

Seems like a straight forward question, but getting the answer was much more difficult than I thought. 

Without dragging this out, here's the answer I landed on: 

The battery pack capacity in a 2023 Tesla Model Y LR AWD is 84.6 kWh.

If you want to know how I got to that answer, read on. 

Since the Model 3 was launched, Tesla no longer badges their vehicles with the battery capacity, so it's not just written on the back of the car.

As one does, first I googled for the answer and I found results all over the place. The only problem is none of them agreed and they seemed more like guesses than authoritative answers.

  • InsideEVs said it is "around 81 kWh."
  • The Car Guide online said it's 75 kWh. 
  • EV Database says it's 78.1 kWh. (very specific, but no source info)
Okay, the web does not know or, at least, does not agree, so let's go to the Monroney sticker. This label doesn't list the battery capacity, but it does say the efficiency is 28 kWh per 100 miles and the range is 330 miles. So with just a little math, that's: (28kWh * 330 miles)/100 miles = 92.4kWh. This is significantly more than the numbers above, so I was skeptical and wanted to double check it. 

The Monroney sticker also says Model Y has an efficiency of 122 MPGe. The math was a little more complicated and resulted in a ~91 kWh capacity size. That's 5 estimates, and none of them agree and the variance is pretty large. But the Monroney sticker is from the EPA; it must be more reliable than some google search. Right? Right? 

I found out that the range and the efficiency are calculated with different tests. So you cannot use those two in the same calculation. That means that my two 90-some kWh calculations are invalid. 

Strike one, the web. Strike two, Monroney. Time for a third (better?) source.

To certify a vehicle for sale in the US, the manufacturer has to submit the EPA test results along with information about the vehicle. These documents are public records, so I looked at the Model Y docs. 

Here are the relevant bits from the document: 

From 2023 Tesla Model Y AWD EPA Test results

First, I find it funny that EV information is lumped under the "Hybrid" category. I also want to point out that this test was done in September of 2022. The cover page says it's for the 2023 model year vehicle, while the comment in the snippet above says "2022 MY" Model Y. Tesla does not really use model years, so take this as you'd like.    

The Tesla submitted EPA document says the battery pack voltage is 360V and that the Energy Capacity is 235. Capacity of 235, but 235 what? There are no units listed. A little digging and I found that this is Amp-hours. Given these to values and we can finally derive the size (360V * 235 Ah = 84.6 kWh). This certainly seems like a better answer than any of the previous. If you know of a better source for pack size info, please let me know in the comments.

You can see the complete document here. Looking at it in more detail, it has several recharge sessions listed where more than 91kWh are used during charging. That does not mean that the battery capacity is that big, there are always some loses during charging for things like heat, thermal management, power electronics, controls...

One important note, assuming the 84.6 kWh is the right size, that does not mean that all of the battery capacity is available to the driver. Automakers often hold back a portion of the battery to improve longevity. 
Special thanks to domenick on TeslaMotorsClub for helping me find these resources. 

Model Y AWD LR Range  

My next question: What is the range of a 2023 Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD?

The Monroney sticker says 330 miles, but there's a reason that we have the expression Your Mileage May Vary. I found a hypermiler who goes by the name madmanquadsix that was able to drive 356 miles on a single charge. I'm no hypermiler, EVs are sporty cars and driving 5 or 10 MPH under the speed limit (as hypermilers often do) is no fun (and can even be dangerous). So I have no expectation of meeting madman's results. 

As we saw in the capacity calculations above, the Monroney sticker led us to the incorrect conclusion that the vehicle had a battery pack of over 90kWh. So, let's assume it's wrong about the real-world range too. Using the pack size that we've determined (84.6kWh) and the 28 kWh per 100 miles yields a range of 302 miles. This seems a little more realistic and frankly is the range that should be posted on the Monroney label, IMHO. And note, if you were to drive that entire 100% to 0% drive, the car would be alerting and speed limiting during the final part of the drive, so that makes the usable portion more like 275 miles, unless you enjoy stress.

Even though I think the EPA stated range is too rosy (for all cars), it is still far better than the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure), and the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle). These two tests both have longer range estimates for the Model Y. The WLTP estimate is 350 miles and the NEDC range estimate is a whopping 398 miles; nearly, 400 miles! That is even more than the madman hypermiler was able to achieve. Having an estimated range that far off, one that is nearly impossible to achieve is just setting people up for disappointment and failure.

Range (regardless of fuel source) can be significantly impacted by elevation changes, wind, weather, road conditions, climate control use, speed, driving style, tire pressure, tread, and wear, towing, roof attachments... Given all of this, I wouldn't just assume you can jump in and drive 300 miles before charging up. A little planning helps and Tesla makes that easy.

Tesla In-vehicle Energy Graph

It's not about general range, it's about "Can I get to where I need to go?"

The route planner in Tesla vehicles is awesome. Pop-in a destination and it takes many factors into consideration, plans a route with charging stops (if needed), and shows you the expected battery pack discharge profile, consuming more energy as you ascend a hill and regenerating energy as you coast down the other side. It even shows you the round trip results, so you know at a glance if you can make it home without a charge stop.

I use the route planner and energy graph on most drives. I like to watch the accuracy of the prediction and I like to see if I can do just a little bit better than that. As Tesla often does, they have iterated this feature, considering more factors and looking at historical data... all resulting in better estimates. 

The image above is a great example. This was a ~25 mile drive, with freeway speeds and 1,118 ft of elevation gain. It was a hot day in August; the AC was on. The route planner expected to use ~31 miles worth of range. The drive was completed using only ~27 miles of worth of range.

Using the in-vehicle (and soon in-app) trip planner allows you to have the confidence to know you'll make it there with charge to spare. 

That answers my two questions:

  1. Q: How big is the battery pack in a 2023 Tesla Model Y LR AWD
    • A: 84.6 kWh
  2. Q: What is the range of a 2023 Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD?
    • A1: EPA Range is 330 miles
    • A2: real-world range is 275 miles* YMMV

Model Y Accessories 

This car was our new fun toy and we had to buy a few things to personalize it a little. 

The USB ports in the Model Y (in all Teslas today) are USB-C. The majority of my cables are USB-A (at least on one end), so it was time to upgrade. There are two USB ports in the center console, so an illuminated USB cable is an easy and affordable way to have some cool ambient light and makes it easier to find stuff in the cubby. 

Next on the list was a center console organizer. There are two reasons I liked this one better than the others. One, it slides forward to give you easy access to the lower level. Two, is it transparent, so the ambient light that's plugged in below glows through. 

Next on the list, driving glasses holder. I like to keep shades in the car in a place where they won't get scratched or dirty. The easy-close strong magnet on this one closes with a satisfying snap. I picked the carbon fiber finish. There are many colors available (you do you).

No one likes trash on the floor of their new car. So where to put it? A bag, that's not a clean look either. The solution is a cyber-can. It fits in a cup holder. I put it in the kicker panel so the center cup holders are available for caffeination.    

Cyber Can 

This is one of my favorite upgrades: Puddle lights. I was intimidated the first time I swapped these in, but it was easier than I thought it would be. It's a nice touch that people see when getting in or out. 

This one is a nice subtle little touch that people are not likely to notice but it improves the experience. And they are super easy to install. You can get them with or without the Tesla logo. I think these go especially good with the midnight silver metallic paint.  

The final Model Y accessory that we've purchased so far is a car smart dog leash. This one is cool because it has a seatbelt clip. This makes it easy to keep your furry friend in the second row. You can even use it with the second row seats folded down. The seat belt clips are right under the 60/40 split. It has a short bungee section to take the jolt out when they tug, a clip for poop bags, and it's reflective at night. The perfect lead for our needs. 

There you have our list of Tesla Model Y accessories. I hope find something that brings you a little joy. 

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I am long Tesla